For many tech companies, online communication tools like Slack and Zoom were already being utilized before switching to remote work.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, however, businesses’ reliance on these tools has grown. Beyond standard daily stand-ups and one-on-ones, video hangouts are used by leadership to give transparent updates on the business and connect with employees during happy hours, meditation sessions, live workouts and more.
In addition to adjusting internal processes, tech companies are rethinking their business strategies as well, shifting product timelines, resources, and in some cases, rapidly accelerating development. In part two of a three-part series, we’re looking at ways businesses across NYC are working to better benefit their customers while keeping employees safe.
How GlossGenius’s business strategy shifted in response to COVID-19: Whether we're in the middle of a COVID-19 outbreak or not, our operating philosophy of “make others successful” remains constant. To continue to make our customers successful during the COVID-19 outbreak, we've shifted several products, timelines and resources. We moved features around the product roadmap, prioritizing those that could help business owners earn income online and accelerated their development. For example, an e-gift card feature slated for end of the year was developed at the outbreak of COVID-19 in eight days.
As we saw GlossGenius customers struggle with navigating government funding, we doubled down on education and tools, creating a way for them to apply for programs such as the SBA Paycheck Protection Program through us, in addition to understanding them better through a successful series of webinars we've done.
We knew this transparency would be key to rallying everyone around the common goal.”
How newly remote teams are impacted: Aligning the team with this shift came down to effective processes and a shared mentality around the why. We implemented processes around pressing initiatives for our customers, creating task forces that had daily stand-ups, biweekly brainstorming sessions and an effective feedback loop that helped us execute faster and more effectively.
What was really important was making sure everyone was on the same page about why we are doing this and why this will help our customers be successful right now. We knew this transparency would be key to rallying everyone around the common goal.
How GlossGenius’s business will be impacted: I believe the shifts we've made strengthened our agile approach to development and will likely encourage us to break apart each future feature and see what's the minimum viable feature that we can ship rapidly. At the outbreak of COVID-19, that approach was how we condensed development of a feature from six weeks to eight days; it was a lifeline for many of our customers.
Second, our focus on education and high-value-add tools that helped our customers navigate some of the most pressing personal and financial times for them will have a lasting impact on our company's customer relationships.
How xtraCHEF’s business strategy shifted in response to COVID-19: xtraCHEF exists to empower the restaurant industry, one of the sectors that has been hit hardest by the COVID-19 outbreak. Restaurants across the globe have had to close their doors or operate at a limited capacity, which places even more strain on an industry defined by narrow margins.
In order to help support our customers, we deferred billing for March and April and expedited the release of a new feature, xtraCASH. Signing up for xtraCASH is free and participants get access to up to 1 percent cash back on purchases through manufacturer rebates. We’re really proud of this release since every dollar counts for restaurant operators right now. We’re also supporting the industry at large by offering a free 90-day trial of our software to new customers so those restaurant owners and operators can uncover more opportunities for savings.
We’ll continue to do whatever we can to help our customers survive in the long term.”
How newly remote teams are impacted: As a cloud-based, SaaS company, we were already in a strong position to work remotely with limited interruption to our daily operations. To make sure the team feels heard and supported, we host all-company meetings over Zoom every Monday morning and our people and culture manager, Natalie, distributes weekly surveys to get a temperature read on how we can improve. We try to have some virtual fun including frequent virtual happy hours and new Slack channels dedicated to good news.
How xtraCHEF’s business will be impacted: We’ll continue to do whatever we can to help our customers survive in the long term, regardless of what crisis may come their way. xtraCASH, for example, isn’t an interim solution — it’s permanent. With the pandemic forcing restaurants to pivot to delivery and takeout only, it’s vital to optimize back-of-house operations. It’s critical for restaurants to understand their food costs. We expect that the restaurants that are still operational, as well as those that will eventually reopen their doors, will want tools that allow them to closely monitor ingredient prices, track plate costs and profits and manage their inventory effectively.
How Zoe Financial’s business strategy shifted in response to COVID-19: Our mission to empower Americans to make educated financial decisions and improve their financial future dictated our next steps as we shifted our communications strategy in response to COVID-19. With so much financial misinformation and speculation, our nimble marketing strategy led to the creation of educational virtual panels for both investors and financial advisors. We shifted our content strategy to align with what consumers are most concerned about.
How newly remote teams are impacted: Zoe Financial utilizes digital tools and virtual communication since our inception. From safe digital file sharing to video calling tools, we believe wealth management should be as frictionless as possible and stand by that belief both internally and externally. Part of our advisor network’s due diligence process includes having the best technology stack, while the vast majority of the wealth management industry still operates in an analog world.
We shifted our content strategy to align with what consumers are most concerned about.”
How Zoe Financial’s business will be impacted: The digital adoption of our platform is high to begin with. This situation has only increased the adoption of digital tools and processes when it comes to consumers taking control of their financial futures. As we emerge from the pandemic as a society, the main shift will continue being that of consumers seeking to ensure more of their relationships are virtual.
How IEX’s business strategy shifted in response to COVID-19: IEX runs a fully electronic stock exchange, and our technology powers the functioning of the U.S. stock market every day. Because the dependability of our systems is so fundamental to the business, our team frequently simulates responses to potential crises in order to ensure business continuity in any scenario. Our top priority is always that our employees are safe and healthy and that our customers continue to be serviced. So when the COVID-19 pandemic appeared on the horizon, we knew that the health and well-being of our employees and their families was paramount, and we swiftly decided to have our team work remotely from their homes. Thankfully, our technology allows us to run the stock exchange from wherever we are located, so we have been able to continue our work to level the playing field and increase transparency for all market participants, albeit with a lot more video meetings.
Our top priority is always that our employees are safe and healthy.”
How newly remote teams are impacted: Early and consistent communication with our entire team was essential to get everyone aligned and prepared to work remotely for an extended period. Over the past few years, we’ve invested in productivity tools, mobile work setups and at-home equipment that allows our team to work remotely efficiently. But because COVID-19 is so unprecedented, our employees have also needed to adapt in many other ways outside of work. There are working parents, people living alone, and people with partners working in healthcare. We are actively understanding and supportive of our employees as everyone manages their own situation and stressors.
How IEX’s business will be impacted: I think many firms on Wall Street will be dedicating time to figure out how to make their remote model more efficient as we continue to face COVID-19, and this will in turn impact how and where we can interact with our clients. At IEX, we are actively discussing what our ‘new normal’ will look like. We continue to focus on our culture, our customers and the growth of our business while keeping the health and security of all our employees and their families the No.1 priority.